Climate change just got even worse!
Rising global temperatures might have one particularly unexpected side effect: dog bites.
We know, we know — say it ain't so! But alas, according to a new study from Harvard Medical School, dogs appear to be statistically more likely to exhibit aggressive, bitey behavior on "hot, sunny, and smoggy days."
"Humans commit more violent crimes when temperature and air pollution is higher," the scientists write in the paper, which was published on Thursday in the journal Nature. "Here, we investigate if also the day-to-day rates of dogs biting humans is influenced by environmental factors."
"We conclude that dogs, or the interactions between humans and dogs, are more hostile on hot, sunny, and smoggy days," the researchers continue, "indicating that the societal burden of extreme heat and air pollution also includes the costs of animal aggression."
To come to their unfortunate conclusion, the researchers used publicly available data from eight US cities to analyze over 70,000 documented dog bite cases, all recorded during the years 2009-2019 (pandemic data was intentionally left out.)
They then cross-referenced instances of dog bites with available weather data. Sure enough, recorded dog bites went up by 11 percent on days with particularly high UV exposure, four percent on all-around hotter days, and three percent on days when ozone, a common pollutant, was more prevalent.
Fascinatingly, dog bites were actually shown to be a little less likely on rainy days.
There are some notable limitations to the study. Heat, after all, isn't the only factor in aggression, and the Harvard researchers were careful to note in their paper that the bite records they used lacked details like a dog's breed, sex, or spaying status, in addition to bitee information like age, gender, and "familiarity with dog and the interactions leading up to the dog bite."
And to be fair to man's best pal, our darling doggos aren't the only animals who get extra vicious in the heat. As the researchers note in the paper, a similar link in humans is well-documented. Besides, who doesn't get a little edgier when it's hot out?
In any case, though, if this summer's going to be anything like last year's, you might want to consider walking your pup extra early — and maybe make sure to always carry some extra treats.
More on notably aggressive animals: Captain Attacked Twice by Orcas Says They're Developing Better Anti-Boat Strategies
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